SAN MARCOS, TX – Make it four wins in a row for the Arkansas State University men’s basketball team as the Red Wolves improved to 2-0 in Sun Belt Conference (SBC) play by earning a hard-fought 74-69 road victory over Texas State this Saturday (Jan. 4) at TSU’s Strahan Coliseum in San Marcos, Texas.
With the win, Arkansas State improves its overall record to 9-4 on the season and equals the Red Wolves’ best start since the 2008-09 campaign which represented A-State head coach John Brady’s first season at the helm. A-State also won its fifth away game this season to match last season’s wins total as the Red Wolves went 5-9 in on the road a season ago.
Arkansas State, which had five players in double-figure scoring, received a career-high 20 points from sophomore guard Cameron Golden with four of his buckets coming from beyond the three-point arc. Senior guard Ed Townsel connected on three three-pointers to finish with 12 points off the bench while senior forward Kirk Van Slyke tallied 11 points to register his 12th double-figure scoring performance of the season. A pair of senior starters, forward Kendrick Washington and Brandon Reed provided 10 points in what was the first-ever meeting between the two schools.
"This is a really good win for our team this early in the (conference) season," said A-State head coach John Brady. "We found a way to win despite not playing our best from an execution standpoint. Down the stretch we gave them (Texas State) too many easy baskets and made some mistakes defensively, but we did make some big shots. Certainly the end result is what matters the most."
The Red Wolves would take the lead in the first half at the 13:37 mark on a three from senior guard Melvin Johnson and increased its advantage to 12 points at 30-18 on a Kirk Van Slyke layup with 4:42 remaining in the stanza. Texas State would cut the lead down to six points with 2:13 left, but redshirt junior forward Seth Kisler answered with a three ball from the top of the key to give A-State a 33-24 lead. The Bobcats played for the last shot of the half and made good on it as Naiel Smith knocked down a rainbow shot with just a second to go in the first half as the Red Wolves held a 33-27 advantage at the break.
The second half saw A-State maintain its advantage for the opening 14 minutes of action before Texas State erased a 13-point deficit at one point to tie the game up at 61-all on a pair of free throws by Reid Koenen, who ended with 16 points off the TSU bench. The Bobcats would pull into another tie (63-all) just under three minutes later on a Koenen jumper before A-State reeled off five straight points capped by a Cameron Golden three from the corner to give the visitors a 68-63 lead with 2:26 to go. The Red Wolves managed to hold onto their lead albeit a slim one for the remainder as Golden and Townsel both converted two free throws apiece in the final 11 seconds to put a stamp on the contest’s final outcome.
A-State ended the game by shooting 53.3% (24-45) from the floor and made 14-of-22 (63.6%) three’s to go with a 12-for-15 showing (80%) at the free throw stripe. Texas State went 25-of-59 in shooting (42.4%) for the afternoon and was four-of-13 (30.8%) beyond the arc. The Bobcats, who outrebounded the Red Wolves 33-26, knocked down 15-of-19 free throws (78.9%). Ed Townsel’s five rebounds paced A-State while Brandon Reed and Cameron Golden combined for 11 of the team’s 21 assists with a game-high six and five, respectively.
Arkansas State will seek to extend its current winning streak as the Red Wolves continue conference action with a two-game homestand at the Convocation Center in Jonesboro, Ark. The Red Wolves square off against the Troy Trojans Thursday, Jan. 9, at 7:05 p.m. (CT) before facing the South Alabama Jaguars on Saturday, Jan. 11, in a 7 p.m. (CT) contest which will be televised live on the Sun Belt Network. Tickets for the game are currently on sale and may be purchased thru the A-State Central Box Office by calling 870-972-2781 or 1-888-ASU-FANS. Tickets are also available for purchase online at www.astate.edu/tickets.
Arkansas State men’s basketball is on Twitter. Follow head coach John Brady(@JohnBrady_Coach) and the program’s official Twitter account (@RedWolvesHoops) to get insider news, information, and team updates. The Red Wolves are also on Facebook at www.facebook.com/RedWolvesMBB.